Reading Clarice Lispector’s stories feels very urgent and necessary as well as revelatory. I have read, so far, the first two sections of the collection.
The First Stories I preferred. It’s very angry and nearly hysterical. But the repeated theme which seems to come up is the unwarranted cruelty of men who perceive themselves as superiour to women. Women, by and large, are smart and stronger than men. They are capable of so much more, can figure out so much more; even stories where the women begin as somewhat dull, dumb,and submissive, they end up with more strength. But men resent this strength, whether the strength constitutes intelligence, creativity, innovation, health, happiness, perceptiveness, and so on. And so men lash out with cruelty and attempt to tear down women. Happily, this section ends with reprimands, superiority, and mockery from women.
Family Ties felt more subdued and gloomy. There’s nervousness but not the anxious energy of First Stories. It often feels like a passive acceptance of bad things (which is powerful, but not as fun). My favourite was the last story, The Buffalo, since that reaches a sort of madness reminiscent of The Passion According to G.H., and it is entirely without any calm.
I prefer the hysterical laughter in the face of stupid, cruel men, self-styled philosopher, which appears in First Stories, overall.